Graduation Date


Document Type

Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Humanities and Cultural Studies

Department or Program Chair

Chase B. Clow, PhD

First Reader

Robert Bradford, MA


Ubuntu is a South African term in the Bantu language that translates to “human kindness.” This essay discusses the present-day impact of the South African philosophical concept of Ubuntu in light of the dehumanization, which Aboriginal Australians and Black South Africans faced, specifically during the period of 1960-1985. How has humanity been enslaved and degraded by assimilation and a cruel division of races, yet positively evolved and progressed due to the efforts of both female and male activists--in particular literary figure Oodgeroo Noonuccal and political leader Nelson Mandela? A lack of respect and tolerance as a result of colonialism has provoked violence and has taken from these groups the land that they owned before European settlers invaded, as well as their personal dignity and cultural identity. The problem of further destruction of indigenous cultures is so great a threat in our collective consciousness as human beings on this planet that, in order to restore the values of those who have come before us, I have researched the value of community and oneness that constitutes Ubuntu and the variations of it between these two places as it relates to contemporary American society. For my research, I have conducted an interpretive and thorough examination of what it means to “embrace the other.” In this cross-cultural analysis of the effects of Ubuntu and its traces in different cultures, such as the Zulu people of South Africa, the indigenous Noongar people of Western Australia and Americans during the Harlem Renaissance, I incorporate historical and philosophical context in order to find the core of what makes us human and how this shapes our future.


I hope you find reading about Ubuntu as rewarding as I have in researching it! Thank you to all who have helped and supported me along the way and continue to do so in all I do. This is for the future of humanity-- I am who I am because of who you are